Lakeland Health Care

Patient Stories

Celebrating Survivors

Story Name Photo Content Treatment
Karen Freehling: A Lakeland da Vinci® Masterpiece
karen-freehling.png After undergoing gallbladder surgery years ago, Bridgman resident Karen Freehling thought she knew what to expect from future trips to the operating room. But it wasn’t until Karen’s recurring diverticulitis required surgical treatment with  Lakeland’s da Vinci robot that she realized just how far technology had come. Over the previous two years, Karen, 70, had experienced three episodes of diverticulitis, a condition that occurs when pouches—called... da Vinci® Surgery
New Mother Praises Dedication of Southwestern Medical Clinic Staff
tifanny-blaskie-expect-the-best-web-2014.jpg As an expectant mother, Tiffany Blaskie was apprehensive about which clinic to visit as she only wanted what was best for her child. With her busy schedule and unsteady work hours, she worried if she would find a location that would cater to her needs. Since this was her first child, she had no experience in choosing a clinic and was understandably cautious. After a lot of research, Tiffany chose Southwestern Medical Clinic, Niles to receive care throughout her pregnancy. As soon as she...  
Patient Credits Quick Recovery to Staff at Lakeland Hospital, Watervliet
jeff-postma-web-2014.jpg Tammy Gregory, 52, a Lawrence resident, was experiencing the slow deterioration of her knee. It had begun to affect the way she walked, shifting her posture and ultimately causing issues in her back. Additionally, her pain was reaching the point where daily tasks, even sleep, were becoming a strain. Seeking help, she contacted Jeffrey Postma, DO , – an orthopedic physician who had helped her in the past – and was delighted to learn that his skill set included knee replacement...  
Bringing Back the Music
Ratajiks.png After 50 years together, you could say that David and Susan Ratajik of Stevensville have played successfully off the same sheet of music throughout their marriage. But when pain experienced by each of them started to slow their tempo, it was time to seek help. They turned to Orthopedic Surgeon Justin Sybesma, MD, of Southwest Michigan Center for orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, for direction. David, 73, a retired school principal and a semiprofessional musician, had been suffering from carpal... Carpal Tunnel and Torn Meniscus
Expertise & Compassion
ron-horton-lg.png In the fall of 2012, Ron Horton’s primary care physician, Daniel Hayward, MD , of Southwestern Medical Clinic in Bridgman, discovered a lump in Ron’s throat during an exam. Dr. Hayward referred the Benton Harbor man to Craig Kline, MD , General Surgeon at Southwestern Medical Clinic Surgical Specialties in St. Joseph. Dr. Kline performed an endoscopy and biopsy on Ron. The tests revealed that Ron had cancer in both his esophagus and stomach. He would need a complex surgery to... Esophagus and Stomach Cancer
In a Child's Imagination
annabelle-holt-lg.png Annabelle Holt is only 4 years old, but she likes to pretend that she’s a nurse. That might seem unremarkable, but it wasn’t always this way. Everything changed after she met Valarie White, RN. Like most children, Annabelle detested trips to the hospital. It usually involved needles and “yucky” medicine. Her mother, Nicolina, or Nicky for short, could relate, but she suspected a trip might be inevitable when Annabelle developed respiratory troubles. That was... Pneumonitis
It's a Family Affair: Three Siblings Have Knee Surgery at Lakeland HealthCare
knuth-siblings-lg.jpg It may run in the family, or that is how it appears with siblings Linda Fites, Dave Knuth, and Paul Knuth. All 3 had knee replacements at Lakeland HealthCare within about a year of each other, performed by board-certified orthopedic surgeons from Southwest Michigan Center for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. Linda and Paul, both of St. Joseph, had knee replacements by orthopedic surgeon Kenneth Edwards, MD. The pain in Linda’s knee started interfering with her daily routine and it... Knee Replacements
A Moving Story of Compassion
nikki-jones-lg.jpg Everything felt off balance. Nikki Jones , 60, couldn’t see straight or think clearly. “I felt dizzy and completely off,” Nikki said. “I had just woken up, and I knew something was terribly wrong. I went to the hospital right away.” Nikki had spent the night before packing and preparing to move from her apartment in Niles to a new place in Dowagiac. She was exhausted by the time she laid down. If it had just been a little stiffness and grogginess, she might... Stroke
Innovative Surgery Helps Octogenarian Resume His Busy Life
robert-barns-lg.jpg Robert Barnes , 80, is often considered the busiest man in his Buchanan neighborhood. He helps his elderly neighbors with their trash, gardening, and anything else that they need. Earlier this year, however, he was unable to lift or move much, let alone walk. In February, Robert slipped on some ice as he was walking to his car after a day of helping renovate his granddaughter’s home. “I was done for the evening and was ready to go home. It was icy and I fell right on my... Kyphoplasty for Compression Fractures in the Spine
Pain No Longer the Focus for Local Photographer
etb-bill-tucker-lg.jpg From baby pictures to senior pictures to weddings, Stevensville-based photographer Bill Tucker has captured many of life’s important moments for 26 years. “I enjoy interacting with people,” Bill explained. “It keeps me young!” But last fall, the pain from a herniated disc in the 57-year-old’s lower back threatened to keep him from enjoying his life’s work – and nearly everything else. “Before the injury, I was very active,” Bill... Herniated Disc
Former Smoker Finds Comfort in Early Detection Lung Scan
etb-george-kavanaugh-lg.jpg George Kavanaugh , a 69-year-old Benton Harbor resident, started smoking when he was in high school. Like most smokers, he had tried to quit several times unsuccessfully. Fifteen years ago he made up his mind to be a non-smoker. “The first couple of days were difficult,” said George. “I found the hardest part of the process was finding something to do with my hands, especially in stressful situations. Instead of reaching for a cigarette, I would grab a pencil and that made... Lung Cancer Screening Program
Leaving Pain in the Dust
jason-griffiths[1].jpg Jason Griffiths of Berrien Springs enjoys living life to the fullest. Whether he’s mountain biking, jet skiing, or coaching his daughter’s softball team, it’s clear he’s not interested in sitting on the sidelines. In the spring of 2013, at age 40, Jason wasn’t willing to let a degenerative spinal disc condition take him out of the game for good. He was ready to get rid of the back pain, numbness in his leg, and an inability to sleep, symptoms that physical... Back Surgery
Patient Praises New Technology for Quick Recovery
Rosario-Espinoza-350.jpg In February 2014, Rosario Espinoza went to the Emergency Department at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph because she was suffering from severe abdominal pain. The source of the 32-year-old’s pain turned out to be gallstones. Gallstones are deposits of digestive fluid that have hardened inside the gallbladder. If left untreated, gallstones can lead to blockages and inflammation, which may result in jaundice and infection. As a nurse’s assistant at Lakeland, Rosario knew it was... Gallbladder Removal / da Vinci Surgical System
Young EMT Credits Lakeland for Being Able to Walk
etb-michaell-martinak-lg.jpg Michael Martinak, 26 , an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), was injured on the job and herniated a disc in his lower back. Discs are the cushions that separate individual vertebra in the spine and — when healthy — allow for flexibility and pressure absorption. Michael has a history of herniated discs, and this particular one was so severe that it put him out of work and required he see a specialist. The injury grew worse over the next few months; physical therapy was unable to... Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation
Lakeland as Good as the Best
lew-burchard.jpg Lew Burchard , 70, has been to Mayo Clinic. It’s generally regarded as one of the best health systems in the nation. His wife, Lynnette, was treated there in 2004, and they left impressed. When Lew was rushed to the Emergency Department at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph in July 2011, he wasn’t sure what to expect. He never imagined that the care could compare to the renowned Mayo Clinic. So much for expectations. Lew had just finished 27 holes of golf and noticed he had a... Emergency Surgery for Subdural Hematoma
Local Realtor Rates His Lakeland Experience a 20!
Howard-McLauchlin-and-Stockton.jpg Late last summer, Berrien Springs resident and local real estate business owner Howard McLauchlin learned he needed to have surgery to remove his prostate because of a cancerous growth. Howard’s urologist, David Terhune, MD , of Lakeside Urology, recommended that the surgery be performed by his colleague, Benjamin Stockton, MD , using the da Vinci® Surgical System at Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph. This procedure is complex due to the prostate’s close proximity to the... Prostate Removal; da Vinci Surgical System
Getting Back in the Game
gina-anderson-and-bill.jpg Tennis was always an important part of Gina Anderson’s life. An avid player in college, Gina continued the sport as she settled into her post-academic life. But Gina’s athletic career came to an abrupt halt when her right knee was injured during a tennis game. Tears to several major ligaments in her knee required surgery. Her doctors and a physical therapist told her that her knee would never be the same, and that she would no longer be able to play tennis. After two and a half... Physical Therapy
Trust Your Instincts
expec-the-best-Kim-Wassweman.jpg Kim Wasserman, RN, knew something was guiding her to take an alternate route to work on that early September morning. She was heading back to Lakeland Medical Center, St. Joseph for a meeting after spending most of the morning in Niles. While driving, Kim, a Registered Nurse and Staff Educator for Lakeland University, remembered that the bridge over Niles Avenue was closed for construction. She changed course. After making a turn, Kim drove past a home and thought she saw someone lying face...  
No Time to Spare
expect-the-best-poster-Bill-Cox.jpg Bill Cox , a 66 year-old lifelong resident of St. Joseph, had no idea what was going to happen during the last weeks of March. He had not been feeling well since Christmas, was tired and had no energy. Bill also had an irritating cough that wasn’t getting any better, so he made an appointment to see his family physician. After some tests, Bill was told he had a low hemoglobin count and tested positive for blood in his stool. An ultrasound was scheduled the next day, with results... Kidney Removed; da Vinci Surgery
The Heart of the Matter - New Procedure Benefits Local Icon
rudy-kolshar.jpg Rudy Koshar of St. Joseph faced a life or death situation. His heart was giving out again. He’d had a quintuple-bypass surgery in 1998, and at age 91, his doctors nixed another open heart surgery. They gently sent him home with a prognosis of about a year. He and his wife, Dorothy, even went to Chicago looking for second opinions and came home with no new options. “It was getting bad,” Rudy said. “I was really showing my age.” Rudy had always been active. Coming to the Twin Cities after... transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR)
Her Symptoms were Subtle. But her Husband Knew Something Wasn’t Quite Right
elaine-bokhart.jpg After losing her 56-year-old mother to a heart attack, Elaine Bokhart of Mishawaka was all too aware that she could also be at risk for the same fate. “I spent the next 18 years always a little afraid of my mother’s history and a little worried that I would have a heart attack just as she had,” Elaine, 54, explained. But when she experienced odd sensations in her left arm and a tingling sensation at the top of her head one morning while she drove to work last December, she didn’t think much... Angiogram
Lakeland stay was superior to “big name” hospital
  Editor, Please allow me to add my name to the recent letters that have been published praising the care at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph. I was recently hospitalized for 22 days —12 total days at Lakeland, and 10 at a “big name” Chicago facility, so I feel well qualified to make comparisons. The care at Lakeland was far superior! Every aspect of my stay locally was outstanding, from the ER to the wonderful cardiac care personnel. The nursing staff is amazing in its genuine care...  
Lakeland Proved to be the Right Choice
  Editor, Upon a sudden emergency to the doctor, I learned that I would need an aortic valve replacement, which was a complete surprise. Being that I rely on God to advise me as to direction on all-important decisions, I pursued various avenues of procedure. One valued friend said that the Cleveland Clinic was the only correct choice to make. I was given a referral to a local surgeon for consultation and was still undecided. I sent all my test records to Cleveland, preparing my trip, mind made... Aortic Valve Replacement & Pacemaker
Screenings Are Key for Prostate Cancer
psa_screening_bill_cox.jpg Bill Cox says that men shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about prostate cancer—and to get screened. The St. Joseph resident, who initially began screenings for prostate cancer eight years ago, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, after his results showed a steady incline in the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in his blood, which can be an early indicator of prostate cancer. “I’ve told so many men what a valuable tool screenings are,” Bill says. “Men need to know to get... Prostate Cancer Screening
Heart Surgery Saves Patient’s Life
heart_surgery_j_ra.jpg When Joseph Raineri of Berrien Springs woke up one November morning feeling congestion in his chest, he thought his discomfort was the beginning of pneumonia. However, when Joseph went to the Emergency Department at Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles, staff members immediately knew that his pain was a sign that his heart was in serious trouble. An angiogram revealed that Joseph had three blocked arteries and that his heart was working at just 15 percent capacity. Cardiothoracic surgeon Dr....  
Detecting Cancer Earlier with Digital Mammography
digital_mammo_s_krohne.jpg Experts agree that the best way to fight breast cancer is with an annual mammogram. Sheila Krohne of Sister Lakes has become a cheerleader for making sure that women understand the importance of getting an annual mammogram. It was during Krohne’s mammogram last year that radiologists at Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles, identified a lump in her breast. “The lump in my breast was less than 1 millimeter in diameter—it was so small,” says Krohne. “The mammogram identified the cancer in the... Digital Mammogram
Education is Essential in Fighting Diabetes
  When Charmain Farnan of St. Joseph traveled to New York recently, she avoided unhealthy foods in favor of the fresh fruit from local markets and the portioncontrolled snacks she had packed at home. But Charmain, who learned she has diabetes last year, wasn’t always this diligent. “I learned to snack differently and to exercise,” she says. “I was taught to do whatever it takes to be healthy.” Charmain applied these strategies to her life after taking diabetes self-management education classes... Diabetes Education Class
New Procedure Can Relieve Back Pain
xstop_m_shindeldecker.jpg Marcie Shindeldecker of Benton Harbor hosted thousands of patrons at the St. Joseph Elks Lodge during her 40-year career. But her leg pain began to interfere with her work, and she couldn’t continue to be on her feet every day. Then Marcie heard about a new procedure, the X-Stop, which could help people with leg pain caused by pinched nerves. “I had seen a segment on TV about the procedure,” says Marcie. “Then I read more about it, and my daughter researched it on the computer. It seemed to... X-Stop procedure
Bridgman Student Undergoes Awake Brain Surgery
brainsurgery_m_cross.jpg Last August, Mitch Cross was a typical 17 year-old, gearing up for another football season at Bridgman High School. But after having a seizure, Mitch underwent an MRI that revealed a tumor in his brain. Dr. Christian Sikorski of Lake Michigan Neurological Surgery advised Mitch and his parents, Wally and Annette, that surgery as soon as possible was the best option. Because the tumor was located close to the speech center of the brain, Dr. Sikorski explained that Mitch would be awake during... Awake Brain Surgery
Home Monitoring System Saves Patient’s Life
telemonitoring_jacqueline_dickerson.jpg When Jacqueline Dickerson woke up with chest pain, she thought about ignoring it. The 78-year-old Stevensville resident figured that she was still feeling the effects of a recent bout of pneumonia. But thanks to the telemonitor in her home, Jacqueline received rapid medical attention that saved her life. Lakeland Homecare provides telemonitoring technology as a free service to improve the quality of care for patients who meet specific criteria, such as a recent hospitalization or a medical... Telemonitoring
Alternative to Hip Pain for Younter Patients
hipresurfacing_d_cotter.jpg Diana Cotter’s mobile home grooming service forced her to do something about the pain in her hip. It led to a complete turnaround in only four weeks with a new procedure called hip resurfacing, an alternative to hip replacement. “I didn’t know the arthritis had progressed so far till I saw the X-rays,” she noted. Grooming pets can be a physically demanding career, one she loves. But the pain was getting worse. “I couldn’t take walks on the beach, and cortisone shots didn’t help,” Diana... Hip Resurfacing
New Technology to Fight Breast Cancer
breastmri_b_tilly.jpg When Betty Tilly, a registered nurse in Lakeland’s Radiology department, volunteered to undergo a breast MRI, she was helping create a protocol for the new program. She didn’t expect her screening to come back with a positive result. “I have faithfully had mammograms every year, and was due for one. So I thought I would participate in the breast MRI study because I had read wonderful things about the new technology,” says Betty. “I’m fortunate breast MRI results are so detailed.” Betty is... Partial lumpectomy and radiation therapy
37-Year-Old Man Recovers from "Widow-Making" Heart Attack
heart_brian_heidenfelder.jpg He didn’t believe it when it was happening to him. Not even several days later: he was not the kind of person this happened to. He had no family history of it, either. “We call this a Widow-Maker,” the doctor told him. “You were lucky. You dodged a bullet.” “Oh, no,” he told them. “I dodged a couple of Cruise missiles.” Brian Heidenfelder was 37 years old, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds with a cholesterol count of 130 when he had his heart attack. The St. Joseph resident had had back spasms that... Emergency Angioplasty
A Stroke of Fortune
Rose_Leona.jpg Leona Jean Rose, a 75-year-old mother of five, did her homework when doctors told her she was at risk of developing a stroke. “I familiarized myself with the symptoms of a stroke,” she says, “so that I would recognize them.” She also had read about the clot-busting drug tPA, which can help people who are having a stroke. One evening in February 2007, while Leona was cooking supper, her homework paid off. “All of a sudden, I couldn’t move my arms,” she remembers. “I knew right away that it... Clot-busting drug tPA

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